Packaging dreams by robot

Bright and shiny lottery tickets get purchasers seats to fantasyland—a destination so popular that it’s hard for Pollard Banknote Ltd., a leading global producer of high-volume gaming tickets, to keep up with the high demand for the tickets it produces in its facility in Sault Ste. Marie in Ontario. But for Pollard to expand its market it needs to make its packaging more efficient — by automating with robotics. That need led it to partner with Sault College researchers, who were asked to develop custom software, and to design and deploy hardware in the College’s Robotics lab.

By working with Sault College and their team, Pollard Banknote can draw from their previous experience and work offline in the college’s Robotics Lab to develop and test an improved solution that will meet their needs. Through NSERC’s funding support of this project, Pollard’s costs to innovate will be reduced and the risks will be minimized, making it feasible.

Currently, the gaming tickets are processed on assembly lines before being transferred to packing station where they are boxed and put on pallets manually, in a variety of different configurations to meet customers’ specifications. Switching to robotics will allow the heavy boxes from multiple product lines to be sorted onto pallets by machine. The streamlining will improve efficiency and save money.

Three College staff members and two students worked from May to December of 2016 to develop communications, grippers and sensing systems, as they proved the concept on five representative products from Pollard. The company was convinced by the work to buy the technology used in the project. The students working on the project learned new skills in programming robots and project management may have an opportunity to work for Pollard Banknote once the equipment is in place.

Industry: Manufacturing

About Sault College

Sault College is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and aims to provide a transformative life experience through empowering students to think and learn in... Learn more